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PRINTED 
TEXTILES 




in the Collection of 
the Cooper-Hewitt 
Museum 



The Smithsonian 

nstitution's National 
Museum of Design 














. 






PRINTED 
TEXTILES 



1306 

U <o N H 2. 



in the Collection of 
the Cooper-Hewitt 
Museum 

The Smithsonian 
Institution's National 
Museum of Design 




COVER 

Roller-printed tabric 
England, c. 1830 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 34.3 cm. 
Gift of Harold M. Bailey 
1960-79-32 

INSIDE COVER 

Block-printed fabric 

Produced by Christophe- 

Philippe Oberkampf 

(1738-1815) 

Jouy, France, late 18th 

century 

Plain-weave cotton 

Height of repeat: 22.8 cm. 

Gift of Josephine Howell 

1973-51-134 

BACKC0\ER 

Salesman's card 

France, early 19th century 

Plain-weave cottons 

on paper 

71.8x49.5 cm. 

Museum purchase 

1986-19-1 



© 1987 by the Smithsonian 

Institution 

All rights reserved 

Library of Congress Catalog 

No. 87-072447 

ISBN 0-910503-57-5 

This handbook, funded in 
part by Brunschwig & Fils, 
Inc., was published on the 
occasion of the exhibition 
Color by the Yard: Printed 
Fabric 1760-1860. which has 
been supported by Laura 
Ashley, Inc., J.P. Stevens & 
Co., Inc., and the New York 
State Council on the Arts. 

Photographs by Scott Hyde 

Design by Mentyka/Schlott 

Typography by 

Fine Composition, Inc. 

Printing by 

Water Street Press, Ltd. 



Note: All dimensions are in 
centimeters, with height 
preceding width. 



FIGURE 1 

Block for printing 
one corner of 
a handkerchief 
Europe, early 19th century 
Wood, metal, and felt 
Gift of Eleanor and 
Sarah Hewitt 
1931-71-24B 

This block would have been 
turned four times to print 
the four corners of a hand- 
kerchief. 



FOREWORD 



A seems fitting that this publication 
on printed textiles, and its accom- 
panying exhibition, Color by the Yard: 
Printed Fabric 1760-1860. should mark 
the closing of the Museum's tenth 
anniversary year. A major portion of 
the Cooper-Hewitt's inaugural exhibi- 
tion as the Smithsonian's National 
Museum of Design was devoted to 
cloth and its transformation into a 
myriad of designs. That exhibition 
clearly established the importance 
of textiles in human history. The 
Museum's collection of textiles is one 
of the finest in the world. It contains 
over thirty thousand examples from 
many geographic areas, spanning a 
period of more than two thousand 
years. The collection reflects an end- 
less variety of patterns, including all 



types of fabt ics and methods of man- 
ufacture, and it serves as a valuable 
resource for designers and scholars. 
The collection has grown over the 
years through the generosity of many 
friends. J. P. Morgan was a major 
contributor, as were Richard Cranch 
Greenleaf, Marian Hague, and 
Josephine Howell. The Textile 
Department is most indebted, how- 
ever, to the founders themselves. 
Eleanor and Amy Hewitt had a par- 
ticular fondness for textiles and began 
collecting as young girls. Color by the 
Yard was made possible by support 
from the New York State Council on 
the Arts, Brunschwig & Fils, Inc., 
Laura Ashley, Inc., and J. P. Stevens & 
Co., Inc., to whom we are deeply 
indebted. 




Lisa Taylor 
Director Emeritus 



INTRODUCTION 



The use of carved blocks, metal 
stamps or seals, and colored pigments 
and resists to imprint motifs on cloth 
reaches back into early history. Today, 
however, the term printed textiles is 
generally applied only to those lengths 
of fabric on which an image has been 
printed in repeat with colorfast dyes, 
resists, or discharges by means of 
wooden blocks, engraved plates, or 
cylinders to create a washable, pat- 
terned textile. These practices became 
a part of the European textile industry 
during the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. 

Prior to the seventeenth century, 
Europeans printed on fabric using 
oil-based pigments or inks to produce 
cheaper and cruder versions of woven 
fabrics. It wasn't until the French, 
Dutch, and English East Indian trad- 
ing companies brought back painted 
cloths from India that Europeans 
became enthusiastic about printed 
cottons. Indian painted cloths were 
lightweight and colorful, and the 
demand for these exotic imports grew 
rapidly. The Dutch, who were among 
the first to organize systematic trade 
with India, were also among the first 
Europeans to develop textile printing 
centers. By the seventeenth century, 
textile printing was practiced in 
several areas of Europe with varying 
degrees of success (FIGURE 1). 

Unfortunately, very little informa- 



tion is available about the early 
European printing firms. In France 
and England, where industrial centers 
for pattern-woven fabric were already 
well established, silk and wool manu- 
facturers feared competition from 
printed textiles and agitated success- 
fully for laws to suppress or curb the 
new industry. These laws and statutes, 
long since repealed, became a matter 
of public record and still exist in 
municipal archives where they can be 
consulted by historians. Ironically, in 
Switzerland, the Netherlands, and 
various German states where there 
was no suppression, history has 
proven more elusive. 

A certain amount of confusion has 
been introduced into the efforts of 
modern researchers by the terminol- 
ogy employed to describe textiles 
during the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. French records, for example, 
use the words toile peinte and indienne 
to refer both to imported, painted 
Indian cloth and to domestically 
produced, printed textiles. Similar 
confusion exists in English records 
in which painted cloth imported 
from India and domestically printed 
cottons may both be called chintz 
or calico. 

Cotton cloth was used for the 
painted fabrics that had initiated the 
fashion for printed cloth, and 
it became the fabric of choice for 





Block-printed fabric (detail 

on left) 

Produced by the firm of 

Christophe-Pliilippe 

Oberkampt 

Jouy, France, 1770-80 

Plain-weave with linen warp, 

cotton weft 

Height of repeat: 26.5 cm. 

Gift of Josephine Howell 

1973-51-101 

The horizontal "seam," or 
white space, above the large 
flower in the detail indicates 
the edge of the printing 
block; several overprinted 
registration marks are 
visible as well. 








FIGURE j 

Block-printed fabric 
England, c. 1780 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 84.5 cm. 
Purchased in memory of 
Mrs. John Innes Kane 
1953-19-3 



European textile printers as well. 
Since cotton couldn't be grown in 
quantity in a northern climate, 
printers had to import undyed cotton 
cloth from India and various 
Mediterranean countries. Not until 
well into the second half of the 
eighteenth century did Europeans 
develop the ability to spin cotton fiber 
into a thread strong enough to serve 
as the warp in an all-cotton fabric. 
Prior to that, European printers 
sometimes used a cloth woven in 
Europe with a linen warp and a 
cotton weft, linen being grown in 
Europe and readily available. These 
linen-cotton fabrics were known as 
fustians in England and siamoises in 
France, although both of these terms 
were also used for other fabrics. 
Fabrics of mixed fibers were not as 
satisfactory for dyeing as all-cotton 
Indian cloth, however, because of the 
thickness of the fibers and because 
the linen and cotton threads did not 
take the dye equally. 

Any discussion of textile printing 
techniques must begin with dyes and 
their technology, for it is the dye that 
gives the fabric its color. Most early 
dyes were derived from plants, 
although some of the more brilliant 
colors were produced by insects 
and shellfish. We know from rare 
examples of unused fabric from the 
eighteenth century that many colors 



were strong and bright, and not at all 
the muted shades now seen on faded 
and worn fabrics from the period. 
Dye chemists worked throughout the 
eighteenth century to isolate and 
create new colors, many of them from 
mineral bases, as well as to improve 
techniques for working with existing 
vegetable dyes. In 1797, the French 
chemist Louis Vaquelin (1763-1829) 
isolated chromium, which led to the 
further development of a range of 
strong, bright, new colors in the first 
half of the nineteenth century. 

In order to be colorfast on linen or 
cotton, many dyes must be used in 
conjunction with a mordant, an agent 
that causes the dye to form a chemi- 
cal bond with the fiber. Used alone, 
the dyes wash out. In the eighteenth 
century it was the mordant, not the 
dye, that was printed as a pattern on 
the cloth. The entire length of fabric 
was then immersed in the dye, and a 
colorfast bond was formed where the 
dye came in contact with the mor- 
dant. Finally, the color was cleared, or 
washed, from all non-mordanted 
areas. 

Many natural dyes are capable of 
yielding several colors and shades 
depending on the mordant with 
which they are used. The madder 
plant, a member of the Rubia family, 
yields an enormous range of color — 
black, purples, browns, and both 




FIGURE 4 

Block-printed fabric 

Produced by the firm of 

Christophe-Philippe 

Oberkarnpf 

Jouy, France, c. 1775 

Plain-weave cotton 

Height of offset repeat: 

64.8 cm. 

Gift of Josephine Howell 

1973-51-105 

Oberkarnpf used printing 
blocks to imitate Indian 
hand-painting, employing a 
number of small blocks for 
this elaborate design. 



7 



Block-printed border 

Produced by the firm of 

Christophe-Philippe 

Oberkampf 

Jouy, France, c. 1800 

Plain-weave cotton 

Length of repeat: 23.5 cm. 

Gift of Josephine Howell 

1973-51-138 



bright and dull reds. The dye itself is 
no different for any of these colors, 
only the mordant is changed; for 
instance, an iron mordant and a 
madder dye will yield black, while an 
alum mordant with madder will yield 
red. By printing several mordants 
sequentially on a cloth before 
immersion dyeing, one madder bath 
will produce a multicolored fabric. 
Madder was such an important dye 
that it was raised commercially on 
farms, and specialists could 
distinguish between the madder 
grown in the Netherlands and that 



grown in the Mediterranean area. 

Dyes and mordants had been used 
for many centuries on piece goods 
and yarn before Europeans learned 
how to control mordants sufficiently 
to print with them. The problem was 
essentially one of thickening the 
liquid mordant so that it could be 
transferred from vat to cloth by 
means of a carved wooden block. The 
substance had to be thick enough to 
adhere to the block without running 
off, but thin enough so that the edges 
of the shapes could print a clear 
outline without blurring. Starch or 




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FIGURE 6 

Block-printed fabric 

Produced by the firm of 

Chrisrophe-Philippe 

Oberkampf 

Jouy, France, c. 1795 

Plain-weave cotton 

Height of repeat: 39.4 cm. 

Au Panier Fleuri Fund 

1957-74-1 

Typical of a group of fabrics 
produced by several firms in 
northern France at the end 
of the eighteenth century, 
this piece is printed with 
four different motifs, widely 
spaced but regularly 
repeated in horizontal rows. 




ss 1 










flour was often used as a thickener, 
but the recipes for mordants and dyes 
were developed by individual printers 
and varied considerably from one 
firm to another. 

After a fabric had been printed 
and the excess color cleared, it was 
often glazed, a finishing technique 
that gave a lustrous and shiny surface. 
The glaze usually washed off, but 
occasionally an unused example from 
the eighteenth century can be found 
with the glaze still intact. 

Textile-printing techniques fall into 
four major categories: block printing, 
plate printing, roller printing, and 
lithography. Each of these techniques 
leaves a different sort of impression 
and gives the cloth a different 
appearance. 




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BLOCK 
PRINTING 



Block printing was the most 
common textile-printing technique in 
Europe until early in the nineteenth 
century. Hand-held wooden blocks 
carved with designs in relief were 
used to print a repetition of a design 
along a length of fabric. Since each 
block could print only one mordant 
or color, each color required another 
block. Fabrics with many colors were 
produced with a large number of 
printing blocks, each containing only 
that part of the overall design it was 
to print. 

Although block sizes varied widely, 
and shapes ranged from square to 
rectangular to irregular, the most 
common block was a rectangle of 
twenty to twenty-five centimeters by 
twenty-eight to thirty centimeters. 
Those blocks that printed only small 
areas of accent color might have a 
width of five centimeters or less. 
Given the practicalities of produc- 
tion, each block needed to be large 
enough to contain as much of the 
design as possible, yet small enough 
to be easily handled by printers and 
assistants. 

Sometimes the wooden blocks were 
modified in order to produce special 
effects. Strips of metal, usually brass 
or copper, were hammered into the 
block to create narrow printing lines 
and to outline shapes, while closely 
set short lengths of wire were 



embedded in the block and filed off 
to the same height to produce a 
dotted impression known as picotage, 
or pin-work. 

A technique called felting was 
introduced for printing large areas of 
solid color. Since wood does not hold 
the liquid dyeing medium evenly, 
often the wooden centers of what 
were to be areas of color larger than 
three-quarters of a centimeter were 
carved out and filled with tightly 
packed felt, which absorbs liquid and 
redeposits it evenly on the cloth. 
Sometimes felted areas left an impres- 
sion on the back of the cloth that 
indicated both the wooden outline 
wall and the felted area of the block. 

The precise placement of each 
block within the design for the final 
printed image was guided by a regis- 
tration mark on the block (FIGURE 2). 
A metal wire extending out from one 
corner of each block printed a small 
dot on the cloth. This registration 
mark was aligned with the dot on the 
corner of the succeeding impression. 
Printers, caught between the necessity 
of using registration marks and the 
desire to disguise them from the 
general public, often hid the dots 
within the seeded center of a flower 
or within a group of berries. 

To print a length of cloth, 
impressions of a block were repeated 
regularly over the length and width of 



10 




Block-printed fabric 
France, 1785-95 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 24 cm. 
Museum purchase 
1985-6-1 

This is a very good 
reproduction of a fabric 
originally produced by 
Oberkampf atjouy. The 
flowers on thejouy fabric 
are veined with lines; here 
the shading is achieved 
with scattered dots. 



11 



FIGURES 

Block-printed fabric, 

"Trafalgar Chintz" 

Produced by the firm of 

John Bury 

Sabden, England, 1806 

Plain-weave cotton 

Height of repeat: 91.5 cm. 

Gift of 

Mrs. Roger Brunschwig 

1966-32-1 

This elaborate fabric was 
produced to commemorate 
the death of Admiral Lord 
Nelson in January 1806. 
Requiring many blocks to 
print, it was designed so 
that lengths placed side by 
side would form an offset 
repeat. 




12 



the entire fabric. If the block was lined 
up so that the impression it left was 
ditectly underneath and direcdy 
beside the impression of previous 
units, a straight repeat of the pattern 
resulted; if, instead, the block was 
pt inted partway down the side of the 
previous impression, an offset pattern 
resulted. The offset rhythm was 
frequently used in textile printing to 
disguise the joins of the printing unit. 

The use of designs with strong 
diagonal movement helped disguise 
the printing unit, too. It is interesting 
to note how often block-printed fabrics 
are designed with diagonal vines or 
stems, although the printing is based 
on a vertical repetition of the block. 
To the informed eye, the block units 
are always discernible; spotting the 
registration marks is often the first 
step to determining the printing unit. 

Block ptinters generally worked in 
teams during the eighteenth century, 
each printer with his own assistant, 
usually a young boy whose job it 
was to prepare the blocks between 
impressions. These assistants carefully 
dipped blocks into tubs of color, 
making certain that the colorant re- 
mained on top of the printing surface 
and did not run into the carved 
crevices. The printer in turn carefully 
aligned the block with the previous 
impression and hammered on its back 
with a mallet to drive the impression 








FIGURE 9 

Block-printed fabric 

England, c. 1805 

Plain-weave cotton 

Height of offset repeat: 

28 cm. 

Gift of Harvey Smith 

1959-91-2 

This amusing fabric was 
created during a brief 
Egyptian revival period at 
the turn of the eighteenth 
century. 



13 



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Block-printed fabric 

Produced by Bannister Hall 

printworks 

Lancashire, England, 1815 

Plain-weave cotton 

Height of offset repeat: 

41.25 cm. 

Gift of Clifton S. Billings 

1971-79-2 



14 



home. Since each block could only 
print one mordant or color, each color 
required another block. A length of 
cloth was completely printed in one 
color before the printers started with 
the second color. The more colors a 
block-printed fabric displayed, the 
more highly it was prized both 
aesthetically and commercially. 

Because printers purchased both 
domestic and imported cloths from 
different sources, the widths of 
unprinted material varied from lot to 
lot, causing designs planned for one 
width of cloth not to fit within the 
selvedges of another. In the best of 
the block-printed fabrics the edge-to- 
edge repeat was planned, and the 
purchaser was expected to sew lengths 
together as either an offset or a 
straight repeat, following the visual 
flow of the design. Blocks were often 
cut so that an image that was split 
on the block would be complete 
when lengths were seamed together 
(FIGURE 8). 

Block printing developed through- 
out Europe and even reached Amer- 
ica, although until the nineteenth 
century American production was 
limited and of uneven quality. In each 
area where the industry took root, a 
characteristic style developed as well. 
For example, many English eigh- 
teenth-century block-printed fabrics 
have a spray of flowers entering the 



fabric horizontally from one edge, a 
design device that can be traced to 
the English silks woven at Spitalfields 
in the first half of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. 

Several printing centers in France — 
at Jouy, in Alsace, and in Provence — 
produced a design that massed small 
flowers known as "mignonettes" or 
"bonnes herbes" on a dark ground. 
French textile printers frequently 
made an effort to have their fabrics 
look "Indian" (FIGURE 4) and incor- 
porated strong and exotic plant 
forms in vivid coloring far more 
frequently than the English. 

Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf 
(1738-1815) was the best known of 
the French printers. Although the 
term toile dejouy is often thought to 
refer only to monochrome, copper- 
plate-printed fabrics patterned with 
isolated motirs or scenes, Oberkampt 
began printing with blocks in 1759 
when he opened his firm in Jouy. In 
business until 1842, his firm used the 
techniques of block printing, plate 
printing, and roller printing. 



15 



COPPER- 
PLATE 
PRINTING 



1 he use of engraved sheets of metal 
for printing ink on paper, and occa- 
sionally on woven fabrics, developed 
in Europe as early as the fifteenth 
century. Not until the early 1750s in 
Ireland were engraved sheets or plates 
used to print continuous lengths of 
fabric with a mordant, followed with 
immersion dyeing of the mordanted 
textile. 

Copperplate printing requires a 
colorant of a different consistency 
from that of block printing because 
the viscosity demanded by an intaglio 
or engraved surface is quite different 
from that of a relief or raised surface. 
Copperplate printing presses con- 
sisted of a flat-bed frame on which 
the plate, with a mordant in its 
incised lines, was placed face up. The 
fabric to be printed was laid on top 
and pressed so closely to the plate, by 
means of a winch and mangle, that 
the fabric absorbed the liquid 
mordant resting in the incised lines of 
the plate. When a continuous length 
of cloth was being printed, the plate 
was recolored and the cloth 
repositioned after each impression. 

The height of the repeat in 
copperplate printing was generally 
from eighty-four to one hundred and 
four centimeters. If two different 
plates were printed sequentially, as 
was done by an English printer 
named Robert Jones, followed by a 



group ot Alsatian printers, the height 
of the repeat could reach up to two 
meters. Perhaps the size of the repeat 
inspired the frequent choice of 
architectural elements in the design. 
Obviously, their height limited the 
uses of the fabric; large-scale patterns 
could only be used for interior 
decorations. 

The fineness of the engraved line 
used in copperplate printing meant 
that the images designed for textile 
printing could be more detailed and 
realistic. Flower petals could be 
rendered with depth and clarity, and 
human figures depicted with the 
modeling that suggests teal flesh. 
Unfortunately, as successive impres- 
sions were taken from the same plate, 
the metal wore away, and the sharp- 
edged line of the printing plate was 
gradually lost. A blurted, smudgy look 
indicates a late impression. 

Francis Nixon, working in the 
Dublin suburb of Drumcondra 
between 1751 and 1755, produced a 
design of surprising sophistication for 
what is presumed to be the first 
copperplate-printed cotton textile 
with a repeating design (FIGURE II). 
The design of Nixon's Drumcondra 
fabric repeats vertically with no 
quickly discernible plate break line, 
the plate having been engraved so 
that elements at the top and bottom 
overlapped during the printing 



16 



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Plate-printed fabric 

(photographic 

reconstrucrion of 

lengths in repeat, below) 

Produced by Francis Nixon 

Drumcondra, Ireland, 

1752-55 

Plain-weave with linen warp, 

cotton weft 

Height of repeat: 99 cm. 

Gift of 

Elizabeth M. Holohan 

1974-31-1 



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17 



process. Furthermore, the design — a 
tree and architectural elements with a 
subsidiary motif of a rustic cottage — 
was not centered on the plate but 
arranged with parts of the pattern 
coming in from each edge. If lengths 
of the printed fabric were sewn 
together, the design would form an 
offset repeat. 

Copperplate-printed textiles 
quickly became fashionable in 
Britain, and by the 1760s several 
firms were engaged in their 
production. Nixon left Ireland 
between 1755 and 1757 and became 
a partner in an English firm located 
on the River Merton. In addition, 
John and Mary Ware at Crayford, 
Robert Jones at Old Ford, the Ollive, 
Talwin and Foster families at Bromley 
Hall, and several other firms were 
involved in copperplate printing. 
Some of these firms produced designs 
that have a distinctive "look." For 
example, the Wares produced a rare 
category of fabrics printed by two 
plates, the second plate printed on 
top of the impression of the first. 

The attention English manufac- 
turers paid to the design of edge-to- 
edge repeats varied widely. The Nixon 
and the Jones firms, for example, 
produced lengths of fabrics that were 
clearly intended to be sewn together 
as offset repeats when assembled as 
curtains or hangings. Usually part of 

18 



a motif was printed on each edge of 
the fabric. On the other hand, designs 
produced by the Ollive, Talwin, and 
Foster families at the Bromley Hall 
printworks recurved towards the center 
or tapered to a complete stop rather 
than reaching across the edge of the 
fabric (FIGURE 12). 

After 1774, British law required 
printers to use all-cotton fabrics of 
British manufacture and stipulated 
that these fabrics be woven with blue 
warps at the edges. Today these warps 
help identify a printed fabric as 
British and pinpoint its production 
between 1774 and 1811. Many of 
these blue-warp, copperplate-printed 
fabrics have a width of about sixty- 
eight centimeters, as opposed to a 
width of around one hundred and 
four centimeters for fabrics printed 
before 1774. Despite this change, 
printers often appear to have 
continued to use plates originally 
designed for larger cloth. The result, 
of course, was that pre-1774 designs 
printed on later, blue-warped fabric 
were lopped off, sometimes in mid- 
image, losing from twenty-five to 
thirty-eight centimeters of the design 
(FIGURE 13). 

England was also responsible for a 
small but puzzling group of white on 
blue prints, the designs of which 
correspond to recorded examples 
from the Bromley Hall printworks 




FIGURE 12 

Plate-printed fabtic 
Produced by the firm of 
Bromley Hall 

Middlesex, England; design 
c. 1760, printing after 1774 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 87.60 cm. 
Au Panier Fleuri Fund 
1960-5-1 

The fabric on which this 
late imptession was printed 
is narrower than the design 
itself and the printing plate. 
Blue warps at each edge 
indicate that the fabric was 
woven in England sometime 
after 1774. 



FIGURE IS 



Plare-printed fabric 

England, c. 1770 

Plain-weave with linen warp, 

cotton weft 

Height of repeat: 95.25 cm. 

Museum purchase 

1984-123-1 

The motifs here have been 
cut off abruptly at the 
edges, for the fabric is too 
narrow for the printing 
plate. 










■ 

1 








19 




FIGURE h 

Indigo-dyed fabric, 

place-printed with 

discharging or bleaching 

agent 

Produced by the firm of 

Bromley Hall 

Middlesex, England, 1790s 

Plain-weave cotton 

58.5 x91.5 cm. 

Gift of Harold M. Bailey 

1960-79-20 



20 






Plate-printed fabric 

Designed by Jean Baptiste 

Huet (1745-1811), after 

Jean Baptiste Oudry 

(1686-1755) 

Produced by rhe firm of 

Christophe-Philippe 

Oberkampf 

Jouy, France, 1806 

Plain-weave cotton 

Height of repeat: 96.5 cm. 

Museum purchase 

1980-33-9 

This textile is representative 
of the best copperplate work 
prinred by Oberkampf. 
Consistently the firm 
designed its plates at least 
an inch narrower than the 
fabtics to allow for a seam 
when lengths were sewn 
together. The design then 
formed an offset repeat. 




21 




22 




FIGURE lb 

Plate-printed fabric, 
"Cairo Fair" (detail 
opposite) 

Produced by the firm of 
Petitpierre & Cie 
Nantes, France, c. 1800 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 99 cm. 
Gift of W. &J. Sloane 
1943-43-27 

The white band running 
horizontally through the 
center of the detail shows a 
misregistration of the plate. 
The manufacturer rried 
to disguise the plate line 
by having parts of the 
design — a branch and small 
leaves — extend above and 
below the plate break line. 



(FIGURE 14). Their production reversed 
the usual process by first dyeing the 
cloth a solid indigo and then creating 
the design by plate-printing a 
bleaching or color discharging agent. 

French production of copperplate- 
printed fabrics began in the 1770s in 
response to England's successes. The 
French quickly excelled at the tech- 
nique, and by the 1790s their designs 
surpassed those of the English. 

Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf's 
firm at Jouy began to produce 
copperplate as well as block-printed 
textiles. The first copperplates 
employed at Jouy were designed to 
print all the way to the edge of the 
fabric. If lengths were sewn up, part 
of the design was lost in the seam. 
Within a few years, the printers 
began to leave almost an inch of 
unprinted white space at each edge. 
This unprinted white border became 
a convention of French copperplate- 
printed textiles. Many of the later 
monochrome plate-printed fabrics 
were designed by Jean-Baptiste Huet 
(1745-1811), a Parisian painter whom 
Oberkampf had secured as a textile 
designer (FIGURE 15). Huet's chief skill 
lay in designing scenes with animals 
and people. 

The city of Nantes, a seaport in 
northwestern France, was one of the 
most important textile-printing 
centers in Europe. Several major firms 
in the city produced copperplate- 



printed fabrics, among them Favre 
Petitpierre & Cie (FIGURE 16). Gorgerat, 
and Dubern & Cie. To some extent, 
Nantes' thriving textile business can 
be explained by the city's extensive 
overseas trade. The city's textile 
printers could readily import raw 
goods and supplies, and just as easily 
export printed cloth. Printed textiles 
of all sorts formed one of the city's 
most important export commodities. 

In some instances it is difficult to 
determine which firm produced a 
particular plate-printed textile. The 
designs of at least one Nantes firm, 
Favre Petitpierre & Cie, are 
sometimes found with the name of 
another firm, such as La Fosse Lionell 
of Montpelier, printed on the cloth. 
Either Favre Pepitpierre printed on 
contract for other firms, or they sold 
their plates to competitors in other 
parts of France after they had 
finished with them. 

This latter hypothesis is further 
supported by the existence of five 
engraved copper printing plates in 
the Musee Lambinet in Versailles, 
which essentially match designs 
known to have been produced by the 
Favre Petitpierre firm. In each case, 
however, some additions have been 
engraved onto the plate — more 
foliage, a flock of small birds, a 
striped background. These alterations 
were probably made after the plates 
left the Favre Petitpierre ownership. 

23 




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Engraved plate- and 
block-printed fabric, 
"Monuments ot Rome" 
Produced by the firm of 
Oberkampf and Widmer 
after designs by Bartolomeo 
Pinelli (1781-1835) 
Jouy, France, c. 1821 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 52 cm. 
Museum purchase 
1978-140-4 

During the nineteenth 
century the height ot 
ptinting plates decreased 
somewhat, as this 
relatively small repeat 
illustrates. 



24 



ROLLER 
PRINTING 



.engraved plates and carved wooden 
blocks continued to be used for textile 
printing until well into the nineteenth 
century, but their importance steadily 
lessened with the move to engraved 
rollers or cylinders that began in the 
second half of the eighteenth century. 
The process, which Thomas Bell 
patented in 1783, was first success- 
fully practiced in England. 

The immediate advantages of roller 
printing in terms of rapid commercial 
production were remarkable, allowing 
for the mass production of printed 
textiles at a much lower cost to the 
consumer. The technique of roller 
printing involves a continuously rotat- 
ing cylinder, which, on each revolu- 
tion, comes in contact with both the 
color trough, for a fresh coloring, and 
the fabric. The fabric is thereby 
printed continuously from the start of 
the bolt to the end, as opposed to the 
block or plate system of repositioning 
and recoloring the printing element, 
as well as repositioning the fabric, 
between each impression. The design 
is positioned on the cylinder so that 
the top and the bottom of the motifs 
connect exactly. Unlike both plate- 
and block-printed fabrics, roller- 
printed fabrics show no sign of a 
mechanical repeat. The height of the 
repeat on early roller prints is short, 
for the repeat height corresponds to 
the circumference of the printing 



roller, and at first only rollers of nar- 
row diameter were used. There was 
no repeat in the width of early mono- 
chrome roller prints. 

Because the first roller-printing 
machines could produce only mono- 
chrome fabrics, English printers used 
them to print textiles that looked a lot 
like copperplate -printed textiles. The 
principal difference lay in the greater 
height of the repeat possible with 
copperplate-printed fabric. 

Printing large areas of solid color 
presented a particular challenge 
in roller printing, one solved by 
engraving a series of closely spaced 
diagonal lines that, when printed, 
gave the effect of a solid block of 
color. These areas of color were often 
used as the background for the 
design. At other times a network of 
finely drawn, lace-like curves filled 
the background area. 

Machines were soon made that 
could print several colors at the same 
time. The fabric passed through the 
machine once, coming in contact with 
a different cylinder for each color. 
The principal challenge in roller 
printing more than one color lay 
in keeping colors from running 
into each other. It was found that 
combining engraved cylinders with 
wooden rollers having a relief surface 
of wood, metal, and felt worked very 
well (SEE COVER). In England this 

25 



FIGURE 18 

Roller-printed fabric 
Produced by the firm of 
Hausmann 

Logelback, Alsace, c. 1840 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 43.2 cm. 
Gift of W. &J. Sloane 
1943-43-28 

Although the roller used to 
print this piece was wider 
than the textile, it is 
apparent from the design 
that the fabric was intended 
to be sewn together as an 
offset repeat. 



g&W-i 



?M fe#^ 




practice was called union, or mule, 
printing. If one examines such a 
textile, it is difficult to tell if the fabric 
was printed by a union press or 
printed first by engraved cylinders 
with further colors added by hand- 
held wood blocks. 

The selvedge-to-selvedge width of 
English roller-printed fabric from 
the early nineteenth century was 
only about sixty-three centimeters. 
Apparently many rollers had been 
made to print a wider fabric, for the 
design was cut off in mid-motif in 
such a manner that it could not 
match up with any part of the design 
on the other edge. The patterns on 
curtains, large hangings, and bed- 
coverings, for instance, would have been 
continually interrupted. Nevertheless, 
printed fabrics, which were now 
available in greater quantity and at a 
lower cost, appealed to the mass market. 

By the 1830s, roller-printed fabric 



FIGURE 19 



Roller-printed fabric 
England, 1835-45 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 38.7 cm. 
Museum purchase 
1977-65-1 

Shaded stripes of color were 
one of the innovations that 
roller printing produced. 



was being produced in quantity in 
England and on the Continent. The 
cost per yard dropped to a point that 
was much lower than fifty years 
earlier when printing was done with 
blocks or plates, and a greater range 
of color was available because of 
improvements in new dyes, including 
a brilliant chrome yellow and a bright 
green. Green had always been a diffi- 
cult color to achieve in the eighteenth 
century, since it necessitated printing 
yellow over blue. 

Printers also began to use fabrics 
other than those made entirely of 
cotton. Wool took dye beautifully and 
served as a foundation for some 
highly colorful and exotic designs. 
Fabrics with a mixed fiber content 
such as those with a silk warp and a 
wool weft were also introduced, while 
cottons intended for more exclusive 
markets were woven with a design or 
texture in the fabric. 




27 



OTHER 
DEVELOPMENTS 



Lithography was developed as a 
printing technique in Germany in the 
last decade of the eighteenth century. 
Useful primarily for printing on 
paper, its application to textile 
printing was limited. Lithography was 
not employed for lengths of cloth with 
repeating patterns, but instead for 
specially sized pieces such as 
handkerchiefs, sashes, men's 
waistcoats, and other specialized 
items that were not designed with a 
repeating pattern. The technique was 
effective on both cotton and silk 
foundation fabrics. 

Lithography is often difficult to 
identify because the fibers of the 
foundation cloth have absorbed 
enough of the printing pigment so 
that the technique may be confused 
with stipple engraving or even 
etching, both of which were also 
occasionally used for textile printing. 
Only the word litho next to the 
printer's name identifies the tech- 
nique with certainty. 

In the first half of the nineteenth 
century, European printers used 
blocks, plates, rollers, and lithography 
to create the designs for their fabrics. 
Technological improvements came 
quickly. Roller-printing machines 
were developed that could print 
increasing numbers of colors, 
permitting the speedy production 
of very colorful textiles. 



Great advances were also made 
during this period in a technique 
called discharge printing. By 1815 a 
substance had been developed that 
could remove color from dyed cloth 
and at the same time deposit a 
metallic oxide that served as a 
mordant for yet another color. It thus 
became possible to print a yellow 
design on a red background with no 
intervening space between the two 
colors. 

Another development combined a 
resist with a mordant, creating a type 
of fabric known as lapis, after the 
gemstone lapis lazuli, in which flecks 
of many colors can be seen. Lapis 
fabrics are characterized by a number 
of different colors in small areas, 
usually including red, yellow, black, 
blue, and green. Lapis involved 
printing a substance that was at once 
both a mordant for the red dye and a 
resist for the blue. Thus when a lapis 
fabric was immersion dyed in 
madder, then immersion dyed in 
indigo, the blue and the red color 
appeared only in the preselected 
areas. Lapis was a technique that 
began in England and was further 
developed in Alsace. 

The development of the printed 
textile industry between 1760 and the 
mid-nineteenth century was extraordi- 
narily rapid. In England, with no 
more than forty thousand persons 



28 







Roller-printed fabric 
England, c. 1835 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 34.9 cm. 
Au Panier Fleuri Fund 
1986-74-1 

This elaborate fabric was 
printed with both relief and 
engraved rollers, seven in 
all. The landscape on the 
urn illustrates the 
sophisticated control of 
shading that good roller 
printing could achieve. 



29 




employed in 1760, the industry grew 
to support a million and a half work- 
ers by 1835. Printed fabrics quickly 
lost their status as luxury goods for 
the wealthy and became everyday 
purchases for the middle and lower 
classes. Edward Baines, writing in 
1835, described the situation in 
England: "...the humblest classes 
have now the means of as great neat- 
ness, and even gaiety of dress, as the 
middle and upper classes of the last 
age. A country-wake in the nineteenth 
century may display as much finery 
as a drawing room of the eighteenth; 
and the peasant's cottage... have as 
handsome furnitures [fabrics] for 
beds, windows and tables as those of 
a house of a substantial tradesman 
sixty years since." 

This extraordinary turn of events 



Roller-printed fabric 
England, 1825-35 
Plain-weave cotton 
Height of repeat: 34.3 cm. 
Gift of Mrs. Ralph P. Hanes 
1987-167-3 

This textile was printed by a 
machine called a mule, or 
union machine, which 
worked with borh engraved 
and relief rollers. 






'-&& ; -CSC) 



30 



was the outgrowth of a variety of 
factors, including the increasing avail- 
ability of cotton, particularly from the 
American South, chemical discov- 
eries, mechanical improvements in 
spinning, weaving, and printing, the 
caprices of fashion, and the politics 
of international trade. All over Europe 
the situation was much the same. 
Once the technology and resources 
for mass production became avail- 
able, printed fabrics lost some of their 
novelty and their prestige. Not until 
the second half of the nineteenth 
century, with such developments as 
the manufacture of aniline dyes, the 
revival of block printing, and the 
discovery of screen printing, did 
printed cottons regain a degree of 
their former status. 




Gillian Moss 
Assistant Curator 



Plate-printed 

handerkerchiefs 

England, c. 1845 

76.2 x82.5 cm. 

Gift of 

Mrs. William A. Hutcheson 

1943-31-8 

The plate with which this 
fabric was printed contained 
the design for four small 
handerchiefs. The purchaser 
was expected to cut the 
handkerchiefs apart and 
hem them individually. 



31 



SELECTED 
BIBLIOGRAPHY 



Baines, Edward, Jr. History of the Cotton 
Manufacture in Great Britain. London: 
Fisher & Jackson, 1835. 

Bredif, Josette. Les plus belles pieces des 
collections. Jouy-en-Josas, France: 
Musee Oberkampf, 1979. 

La toile imprimee. 



Jouy-enjosas, France: Musee 
Oberkampf, 1981. 

Berrhollet, Claude Louis, and A.B. 
Bertholler. Elements of the Art of Dyeing. 
Translated by Andrew Ure. 2 vols. 
London: Thomas Tegg, 1824. 

Chapman, Stanley D., and Serge 
Chassagne. European Textile Printers in the 
Eighteenth Century; A Study of Peel and 
Oberkampf. London: Heinemann, 1981. 

Chassagne, Serge. La manufacture de toiles 
imprimees de Tournemine-les-Angers . Paris: 
Klincksieck [1971]. 

Clouzot, Henri. Histoire de la manufacture 
dejouy et de la toile imprimee en France. 
Paris: G. Van Oest, 1926. 

Clouzot, Henri, and Frances Morris. 
Painted and Printed Fabrics: The History of 
the Manufactory atjouy and Other Ateliers 
in France. 1760-1815. New York: The 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1927. 

Depitre, Edgard. La toile peinte en France 
au XVIIe et au XVHIe siecles; Industrie, 
commerce, prohibitions. Paris: 
Riviere et Cie, 1912. 

Dollfus-Aussert, Daniel. Mate'riaux pour la 
coloration des etoffes. 2 vols. Paris: 
F. Savy, 1865. 



Drossen, Monique. "Les inscriptions des 
toiles imprimees: reperes de datation de 
l'attribution?" Bulletin de liaison du centre 
international d'e'tude des textiles anciens 
Gi-GA (1986). 

Floud, Peter C. English Printed Textiles, 
1720-1836. London: Victoria and Albert 
Museum, I960. 

"The Origins of English 



Calico Printing." Journal of the Society of 
Dyers and Colourists 76 (May I960). 

"The English Contribution to 



the Development of Copper-Plate 
Printing." Journal of the Society of Dyers and 
Colourists 76 (July I960). 

"The English Contribution to 



the Early History of Indigo Printing." 
Journal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists 
76 (June I960). 

Montgomery, Florence M. Printed Textiles: 
English and American Cottons and Linens, 
1700-1850. New York: Viking, 1970. 

Persoz, J. Traite the'orique et pratique de 
limpression des tissus. 5 vols. Paris: 
Victor Masson, 1846. 

Roy, Bernard. Une capitate d'indiennage. 
Nantes: Musee aux Salorges, 1948. 

Storey, Joyce. The Thames and Hudson 
Manual of Dyes and Fabrics. London: 
Thames and Hudson, 1978. 

The Thames and Hudson 

Manual of Textile Printing. New York: 
Thames and Hudson, 1974. 

Toiles de Nantes des XVIIle et XIX siecles. 
Mulhouse, France: Musee de 
l'impression sur etoffes, 1977. 



32 




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